Page 2090 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 21 June 2005

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in this context that the community engagement initiative was shaped. It represents a fundamental shift in the way that government interacts with the people that it serves.

Under the previous government’s purchaser/provider model, the community were regarded as consumers of government services, not partners. On coming to government, we were determined to entrench a partnership philosophy as the guiding principle of community/government relations. Instead of seeing the community as consumers of government services, we see them as fundamental partners in developing and implementing policy.

A broadly representative community engagement working group was established to evolve the engagement process and to devise tools and strategies to assist government to develop quality and sustainable partnerships with the community. Following significant consultation, four communication products were developed. It was with great pleasure that last week I stood in front of over 100 people from many different community groups across Canberra and launched these materials that so many of them had contributed to and that aim to help agencies better engage with the community.

The package includes a community engagement manual to assist government agencies engaging with the community; the community engagement service charter, which is a statement of principles that embody the ACT government’s commitment to community engagement; an ACT community engagement link on the DHCS web site, providing up-to-date information, resources and contact details for community and government staff involved in community engagement activities; and a community engagement learning and development strategy to effect the cultural change required within government organisations to embrace partnership.

All agencies will be required immediately to include community engagement principles and practices in their strategic plans and identify officers to act as contact points for all engagement activities. The government is committed to engaging with and listening to our community and we encourage all Canberrans to engage in the issues that affect them.

Since becoming the minister responsible for community services, I have done just that; I have gone out and seen a whole heap of community organisations and individuals. I have visited something like 20 or so multicultural groups, I have spoken to non-government organisations and I have been to many sites just to see how people are doing, and I have engaged with them deliberately. As I move about the place, I see Mr Gentleman, I see Ms Porter, I see Ms MacDonald and, very occasionally, I see Mrs Burke.

Mrs Burke: I did not see you on Saturday at the forum, Mr Hargreaves.

MR HARGREAVES: Perhaps Mrs Burke would like to stand up and correct the record, Mr Speaker, because she did see me at the forum. As a matter of fact, Mr Speaker, I did not see Mrs Burke at, for example, the refugee effort. I did not see Mr Smyth either. I understand that Mr Smyth was told that he could not speak because he would not sign the refugee charter. I am told—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Come to the subject matter of the question.

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